Sunday, November 23, 2014

Healthy Pumpkin Spice Latte Smoothie

Nothing screams "Fall is here!" like the good ol' pumpkin. Pumpkins have really made a killing lately. You know you've made it big when you into a flavor: Pumpkin Spice M&Ms anyone?

So I know I'm a little late to this PSL party. All the basic bitches love a good ol' cup of PSL, and here I am just now making my own version when it's pretty much winter outside. Anyway, just because the Pumpkin Spice Latte is so pedestrian now, doesn't make it any less delicious!
In my easy healthy smoothie version, I use fresh pumpkin puree instead of the fake syrupy stuff which instantly boosts the nutrition factor. Pumpkin is full antioxidant vitamins such as vitamin-A, vitamin-C and vitamin-E and rich in dietary fiber. You can feel good about yourself when you're sippin' on this.

Since I actually don't have any pumpkin spice in my pantry (what!?!), I only added ground cinnamon and ground ginger in my smoothie, however if I had pumpkin spice, I would definitely use that instead.

The other ingredient that makes this so easy to make is Trader Joe's cold brew coffee concentrate. It's one of my best Trader Joe's finds to date, helps fuel my cold brew addiction for half the cost of going out to the coffee shop. If you don't have this on hand, some espresso will be just as delicious.

Hope you enjoy this version of a healthier pumpkin spice latte with twice the nutrition and half the calories than what you're likely to get at your local Starbezzy. Pumpkin Spice forevaaaa!

Healthy Pumpkin Spice Latte Smoothie

1 cup unsweetened almond milk
½ cup TJ's cold brew coffee concentrate or 1-2 shots of espresso
1 teaspoon agave syrup or sweetener of choice
3 tablespoon pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon pumpkin spice or a mix of ground cinnamon & ginger
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
4-5 ice cubes

1. Add to blender. Blend until smooth and serve!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

NYC: Tanoshi Sushi, BYOB Edo-Style Omakase

I know I've been a little MIA for the past week. But it's kinda for a good reason... I've been busy celebrating using the "It's My Birthday!" excuse for any and all dinner plans as well as some birthday purchases. I know, 28 and still so eager and youthful, lol ;). I do plan on wrapping up my final thoughts on this round of my CLEAN 28 Cleanse, but I think this is more important...
Friends, meet the Triple X. It's made with uni, quail egg and salmon roe. When you eat this all in one bite, the yolk pops to cover the already creamy uni in even more creaminess if that was possible. As you continue to bite on, each of the little pieces of salmon roe bursts in sweet briney ocean flavor that's going to send you in an orgamasmic state of euphoria.

Pretty sure it's called the Triple X because they know this is some delicious food porn.

When I read that "the sushi at Tanoshi sushi is some serious Jiro-level shit", I knew I had to try it. You don't take it lightly when Kenji writes about a restaurant with such high regard. So it's been on my radar for a while. Jiro-level is a great perfect place to end my cleanse and to start some birthday foodie adventures.
Tanoshi is located in the Upper East Side, aka no man's land (sorry to those who live up there, but it's the truth). It's the definition of a hole in the wall restaurant. This place looks like it's built in some guy's pre-war brick apartment, furnished with a sketchy window A/C and all. It's so hole in the wall that it's BYOB for goodness sake! Omakase and BYOB, essentially you're bringing booze over to Tanoshi's apartment, and he's going to make you dinner. As good house guests, J and I brought a beautiful bottle of Kubota Manju Daiginjo that was just so smooth and wonderful with the meal.

There are 3 seatings per night, and it's all done by their reservation system on SeatMe. J and I chose the 7:30pm seating, but you can easily reserve up to 2 weeks prior for their 5pm and 9pm seating as well. 12 seats total around the little sushi counter with 3 sushi chefs. The $69 omakase is mandatory and it includes 9 pieces of nigiri, 3 pieces of simple maki rolls and 1 handroll to end the night.

You don't have to order appetizers to start, but J and I are fatties, so of course we did. The best appetizer of the night was their "Foie Gras of the Sea" aka monkfish liver. It sat on top of a ponzu sauce which was a great citrusy balance to cut the richness of the liver. It's one of the most memorable dishes of the night and the best preparation of monkfish liver I've had yet.

Monday, November 10, 2014

NYC: Central Park Fall Foliage Report, 2014 Edition

Happy Monday! Autumn is in full swing here in New York City and I just had to tell you about the epicness of Central Park right now. After seeing my friend's picture overlooking the park on Friday, I knew I just had to head over to Central Park this weekend to check out the wonders of fall. Summer ended a little later this year so I think it took about an extra week for the leaves to all change colors.

Last year I went late October (October 20th to be exact) to see a ton of trees changing colors. However, this year, I waited until this past weekend to check it out (November 9th). The weather was just absolutely perfect. Just chilly enough for you to know it's Fall, but warm enough for you to walk around without shivering or longing for gloves.
After we grabbed a quick brunch at Maison Kayser in the Upper East Side, we walked right into the park from the 70's and explored. I'm always in awe that we have this available to us right in the middle of our concrete jungle. And I can't help but feel blessed that I live in New York City, a place that millions of people come to visit every year.

A good reminder to soak it all in before I have to move back to California. Also to make sure I get as much done on my NY Bucket List as possible.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

How to Make Vegan Cashew Cream Cheese, Mayo and Ricotta

Cashews. Magical magical cashews. It's an ingredient you probably wouldn't think twice of using in your every day cooking. You probably won't see it on menus very often unless you're ordering Cashew Chicken Stir-fry from your favorite Chinese Takeout place.

But then all of a sudden you're on a cleanse and have to cut diary out of your diet. Or you decide to date someone who's Paleo, or hell, maybe you decide to become a vegan! All of a sudden, you realize that cashews is your new best friend because it's the ONE ubiquitous ingredient that can help substitute for all the things you've loved in your past life.

When I did the CLEAN Cleanse 1.5 years ago, I discovered my love for raw vegan food. More specifically, I discovered my love for this Scallion Cheese Roll at Quintessence. It's an amazing sushi roll made with all sorts of veggies, binded with this amazing vegan cashew cheese substitute. Ever since I discovered this delicious cream cheese substitute, I vowed to replicate.

Afterall, it's only made with cashews, olive oil, lemon, garlic, scallions and salt. How hard could that be to make? So I started my research on possible recipes. As it turns out "Scallion Cream Cheese" on Google isn't as popular as I thought. Where my raw vegans at!?

What I learned quickly was how often cashews are used in Vegan cheese recipes. I'm talking Vegan Ricotta. Cashew Cream Cheese. Cashew Mayo. Cashew Sour Cream. Creamy pasta sauces with a cashew base. You get the drill. Cashews has a delicious creamy consistency.

Trials & Errors of Making Cashew Cheese Recipes

This blog post is about a year in the making. It comes from a ton of trial and errors, and I still am not sure if I got it all right. But everyone's gotta start somewhere.

Friday, November 7, 2014

CLEAN 28, Week 2 Recap Part 2: SoulCycle and Lifting "Heavy"

In the second part of my week 2 cleanse recap, I wanted to tell you about my workouts of the week. My favorite part of doing the Clean cleanse is that I still have a ton of energy through the day, unlike straight up juice cleanses that leave me drained and useless. I can actually build muscle on this cleanse! 

SoulCycle w/ my SOUL sistas!

Let's start off with workouts. I've been trying to do more non-spinning workouts since that's ALL I do. You guys who read this blog regularly know that I'm obsessed. And for those of you who haven't tried spin, here's 5 reasons why you should! Earlier this year, I got really into SoulCycle because of my SOUL Sisters (lol, it's a thing!). For a month straight, we kept going because we were so addicted.

Okay, so I know SoulCycle is still considered spinning, BUT unlike my regular spin class, they also have a 8-10 minute arm workout in the middle of spin class. And even though we're only using 2 lb weights, I started to see arm definition after just 1 month. That's insane guys, cause even though I was lifting 2lb weights for 10 minutes, 3 times a week for a month, my arm muscles GREW. That's how little they were lol.

Anyway, I haven't been back to Soul for about half a year now since classes are SO expensive, but one of my soul sistas wanted to have us take a class with Akin so we finally gave it a go this week! I actually cancelled dinner plans in favor of going to Soul. I mean, dinner plans.... SoulCycle workout.... For Clean Cleanse Shelly, it's a no brainer.

Since I haven't gone in so long, I forgot how crazy the workouts can get. Even though I go to spin 3x a week, this Soul workout really drained me! This further proves that you have to shake things up and keep your body guessing to see change...

On lifting "heavy"

This brings me to the next part of my workout this week. I finally upgraded to using a barbell bench press rack! Let me tell you why this is so significant to me. So back in July, I started following BiteSizedArmy's 12 week weight lifting program. Her guides includes targeted workouts for your chest, legs, back, shoulders & arms - one part of the body per day. When I first started, we had to do barbell bench presses.

I actually took notes on my weekly progress so I could keep track of what weights I used the previous weeks for the same exercises. Looking back at some of my notes, it would say stuff like...

Barbell Chest Press - 35# - OUCH!!!!